The power of vulnerability: Brené Brown [TED VIDEO]

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Connection gives meaning to our lives. If you ask people about love the tell you about hartbreak. When you ask about belonging, they talk about exclusion. When you want to know about connection, they lay out the most disconnected times of their lives.

The most unconnecting feeling is shame. That shame breeds fear that you will not be accepted and the more you talk about it the more you have it. People feel that they are not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not promoted enough, do not earn enough. There’s an excruciating vulnerability that to be able to connect to others we need to be seen. To open up!


Most important thing about shame and vulnerability is that there’s just one factor that really matters. The people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and folks who struggle for it, folks who are always wondering if they are good enough differ in one variable. The variable was that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe that they are worthy of love and belonging. That’s it! They believe they are worthy.

What do the people who feel worthiness have in common?

Wholehearted people have the sense of worthiness. What they had in common was courage. Courage means opening up and be seen as imperfect. They had compassion to treat themselves and others kindly. They had connection as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were. (This is interesting as sometime the advice is to fake it until you make it). They believed that what made them vulnerable made the beautiful. The willingness to say “I love you” first, the willingness to do something without there being guarantees.

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What is vulnerability? Asking you girlfriend to have sex. Being turned down. Asking someone out. Waiting for the doctor to call back. Being laid off. Laying off people. One way to deal with that is to numb vulnerability. The problem from this is that we can not selectively numb an emotion. We numb everything. When we numb negative emotions we numb everything including joy and happiness. This makes us miserable and we start to look for purpose and meaning… and then we feel vulnerable… which we will try to numb and the cycle repeats itself. This is a a way to discharge pain and discomfort.

Who and why we numb things:

  • we try to make everything uncertain certain
  • we perfect
  • we pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people

But there’s another way:

  • Let yourself to be seen, vulnerably seen.
  • To love with our whole hearts even there’s no guarantee.
  • To practice gratitude and joy. (read Improve Your Life #4: Attitude of Gratitude)
  • To believe that you are enough!

Brené Brown at TEDxHouston – YouTube.

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, where she has spent the past ten years studying a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness, posing the questions: How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough — that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy?

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Brené is the author of:

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

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